Senioritis: the Silent Motivation Killer


I never thought I’d get it. I figured school would always seem like an obvious task I wouldn’t have a problem completing, and my grade point average (GPA) would do nothing but go up.

Then the first day of senior year came. I had it all figured out. I would leave 30 minutes early to pick up my boyfriend; after school we would hang out, and maybe go out for a celebration dinner. I was ready for the year to begin.

Since I started high school, from family and friends I heard about how amazing senior year was supposed to be; how social constraints relaxed, you had more freedom, and college applications were stressful but worth it.

And they couldn’t have been more wrong.

As soon as I turned my car on, I realized it was unusually loud, and sounded like it was on the verge of exploding. I couldn’t drive it, and I had to call a tow truck. My father still had to pick up my little brother from his ex-wife’s house in North Little Rock, and my boyfriend missed the bus. My father and I pulled up to his ex-wife’s house, which was completely covered in toilet paper, trash, and soda cans. She didn’t even know what had happened, as she couldn’t walk. A week earlier she had knee surgery, and was on bed rest. It was obvious that this was part of some upperclassmen prank, but it didn’t make the trash any less appalling.

It only got worse. My first block teacher made it clear we weren’t going to be friends, and the mechanics were so backed up they didn’t even have time to see what was wrong with my car that day. Everything seemed to be falling apart as school work piled up.

Every day for the rest of the week, I got in my father’s car after school and cried. I hadn’t gotten to hang out with my boyfriend, or anyone for that matter. I had a sudden animosity toward my classmates, and my usual obligations stressed me out more than usual. I no longer dressed to impress, but dressed to stay under the radar. Within a few weeks I felt depression coming on, and I called my grandmother in hopes of a pep talk. After listening to me going on and on about how awful school had become, she laughed and told me I had “Senioritis.”

It was a relief and a stressor at the same time. I was relieved to know I wasn’t going to need a psychiatrist, but I was worried about keeping up for the rest of the year. I wasn’t sure how to cope. I began dressing in a more moderated fashion, sleeping in an extra 30 minutes, and occasionally cutting corners on school work. The idea of being exempt from my final exams also pushed me.

Here are some tips that I’ve come up with to cope:

  1. Remember what really matters. I was really irritable at first, and every little thing ruined my day. Toleration is key. Graduation matters, college applications matter, and most of all, taking a deep breath when one of those incidental high school things happen that drives you over the edge. Remember the end goal.
  2. Don’t ignore responsibilities. No matter when you apply, your college will eventually see what you made senior year and they can rescind your acceptance if your grades tank. Stay organized and ahead of deadlines.
  3. Find motivation. I made my phones background the logo of the Presidential Leadership Program that I worked so hard to get into. Remember what you’re graduating for. Remind yourself that if you don’t keep up, the college won’t keep you.
  4. Universities look at more than just what you send them. They look at your social media, and pay attention if you get into serious legal trouble. Don’t get wild just because it’s senior year and you’re turning 18. While a speeding ticket isn’t important to a university, something as small as a tasteless joke on twitter could.